XML for forms

Tim Bray tbray at textuality.com
Mon Jul 5 20:56:03 BST 1999

At 01:27 PM 7/5/99 -0400, David Megginson wrote:
>Tim Bray writes:
> > It's an interesting area of work though - the notion that you can
> > finalize a weighty legal transaction (loan application, purchase
> > order) by filling in an HTML form and sending a bunch of
> > context-free name/value pairs to port 80 somewhere is pretty deeply
> > inconsistent with business culture as we know it
>The same problems exist with electronic forms whether or not they are
>presented on the screen so that they look like paper forms 

Emulating paper isn't the issue; making the transaction admissable
as evidence is.  That is why XFDL for example insists on including
in the form document all the presentational information and so on - 
the claim is that you have to digitally sign not only the answers to
the questions but the questions and how they were presented to the 
user, in order to achieve the goal of non-repudiation.  (Mind you,
this should be done using CSS or flow objects rather than with
custom tags as XFDL did).

As a legal illiterate, I'm not sure what the real state of play is
here - but I still think that a list of context-free name/value
pairs is a pretty shaky basis for a legally binding transaction. -T.

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